Inland Empire Criminal Defense

Claim of Right/Title

When you obtain property under claim of right or title, you are essentially asserting that the item is rightfully yours or that you had permission to possess it. This defense is crucial as it eliminates the necessary intent for most theft crimes.

If you acquired the property under a claim of right, it means you genuinely believed you were entitled to that specific property or a particular sum of money, and subsequently took possession of it openly. Importantly, this belief can be considered in good faith even if it turns out to be mistaken or seemingly unreasonable. However, if there were facts known to you that rendered this belief entirely implausible, then the claim loses its validity. For instance, taking a car for a test drive and keeping it permanently would not be deemed reasonable.

It’s important to note that this defense does not hold if there was an attempt to conceal the act of taking the item at the time or afterward. For example, taking discarded items from work home thinking it’s acceptable, but intending to hide them suggests a lack of rightful ownership.

Furthermore, the claim of right defense cannot be used to justify taking items to offset or settle disputes with the property owner over an undetermined amount. Therefore, being upset with your landlord over rent increases or property repairs does not give you the right to take items from the property in recompense.

Lastly, this defense is not applicable if the claim stems from an activity recognized as illegal, or known by the defendant to be illegal, such as drug sales.

For further insights on the claim of right defense, reach out to Ontario Criminal Defense attorney Adam Jackson for a complimentary consultation and case assessment. Contact us today at 909-281-0465. We are located in Ontario, CA.

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